Dell has added multi-core technology to its single-core dual-socket servers and workstations. Dell claims the new systems provide a maximum improvement in performance of 53 percent compared with the single-core, dual-socket machines they supersede.

Multicore computing is the placing together of two or more CPUs on to a single piece of silicon as a way to both cut costs and lower thermal emissions. Since processor-intensive tasks can be handled separately, multicore chips can also help improve the performance of multi-threaded applications.

Dell's PowerEdge 1850, 2800 and 2850 servers, its PowerEdge 1855 blade server, and its Precision 470 and 670 workstations will ship in the first half of October with dual-core Intel Xeon chips instead of single-core processors, according to Neil Hand, vice president of worldwide marketing in Dell's Products Group.

"This is our core range of servers, in the 1U, 2U and 5U range as well as tower [configurations]," he said. U is the standard unit for measuring the space between shelves on a server rack where 1U equals 1.75 inches.

"We will bring out a four-socket dual-core system before the end of the year," Hand said.

The older single-core and the new multicore Dell machines share a common system image and are backward compatible, according to Hand, simplifying application migration as customers move up from one to the other.

In terms of power consumption, the new dual-core processors raise the total performance per watt of Dell's PowerEdge and Precision machines by a maximum of 43 percent over their single-core peers, Hand said.

The new PowerEdge servers will ship with Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 operating system and Red Hat Inc.'s Enterprise Linux. The PowerEdge 1850 server and the 1855 blade are both priced from US$2,448, while the PowerEdge 2800 costs from $2,548 and the PowerEdge 2850 from $2,748. The Precision workstations will ship with Microsoft's XP Professional operating system and Red Hat's Enterprise Linux. The Precision 470 costs from $2,479, while the Precision 670 is priced from $2,779.

Dell shipped its first dual-core server, the PowerEdge SC430, aimed at small businesses, in July.

Dual-core-based PCs and servers are appearing more and more in the market from all four of the leading systems vendors - Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems.

Unlike its competitors which sell systems based on chips from both Intel and its rival AMD, Dell only sells machines based on Intel's chips. Perhaps due to that loyalty, Dell is often the first systems vendor to ship new Intel technology in its machines.